Blitz torte is a scrumptious, over-the-top cake, which has been popular in the United States for a very long time, and is probably of German origin. The earliest recipe I can find is from the wartime edition of The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, published in 1944. Blitz torte was popularised in the 1960s when it appeared in Betty Crocker's Cookbook.
The meringue and almond topping and pastry cream filling make blitz torte a wonderful choice for a celebration. It really is not difficult to make, especially when you consider the final effect. I find it quite sweet, so suggest serving it with strawberries or other fresh fruit for balance.
The torte could be filled with whipped cream rather than pastry cream, although this is not as nice. Pastry cream or creme patissiere is a very thick custard that is easy to prepare. It can be used as the filling for cakes, choux pastry and fruit tarts and as the base for sweet souffles.
Blitz torte - lightning cake
125g butter, softened
½ cup (125g) sugar
4 free-range egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour, sifted
pinch of salt
4 free-range egg whites at room temperature
¾ cup (185g) sugar
½ cup flaked almonds
1 tbsp caster sugar to sprinkle
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Pastry cream filling
1 quantity pastry cream (see recipe)
½ cup pure cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced, or 180C regular. You will need two 20cm shallow round sandwich tins, ideally with removable bases. Grease the tins, dust with flour and line the bottoms with baking paper.
To make the cake base, cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer or by hand until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating in before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla. Fold in the sifted flour and salt alternately with the milk on low speed or by hand. Add a dash more milk if needed. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tins and spread evenly. The meringue topping goes on before baking.
To make the topping, in an electric mixer whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt on medium speed until stiff. This takes three or four minutes. Turn the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time. You also do this by hand. The meringue should have a satiny texture when you finish. Pile half the meringue on the top of each cake. Scatter the flaked almonds over the meringue (on both cakes) and sprinkle with the caster sugar and, if desired, cinnamon.
Bake in the centre of the oven for about 35 minutes until the cake is firm when tested with a skewer and the meringue crisp. Allow to cool in the tins placed on a rack. Run a knife around the outside and carefully turn out onto a tea towel or foil and then turn up the right way.
Prepare the pastry cream (see recipe below) for the filling and allow it to cool. If you don't want to add the whipped cream to it, make 1½ times the quantity of pastry cream instead and just use that.
Fill the torte an hour or two before serving. This gives it a chance to meld together in a delectable way. Whisk the pastry cream briefly to loosen then fold in the whipped cream. Keep the best-looking cake for the top layer. Place the other one, meringue side up, on the serving plate. Spread the pastry cream over the top and place the other on top, meringue side up.
Remove the blitz torte from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Cut with a serrated knife and serve with strawberries. Best eaten on the day it is made as the meringue will lose its crispness in the fridge overnight.
Pastry cream - creme patissiere
If measuring the flour with a tablespoon, be sure to use the Australian standard 20ml tablespoon and level it off.
1 cup milk
2 free-range egg yolks
2½ tbsp (50g) sugar
2 tbsp (25g) plain flour or cornflour or 1 tbsp of each
½ tsp vanilla extract
Bring the milk just to the boil on the stove or in the microwave. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until creamy and then beat in the flour.
Pour the hot milk on to the egg, sugar and flour mixture, whisking at the same time. Tip it back into the saucepan and return to a medium heat. Whisk or stir continuously until the custard thickens and boils and cook for one to two minutes longer to cook out the raw flour taste. Stir in the vanilla extract. Press plastic wrap on to the surface of the custard and leave to cool. It will keep in the fridge for two or three days.
Variation: An alternative pastry cream can be made using custard powder rather than the flour and egg yolks. The measurements and method are the same.
>> Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, email@example.com.